6 Essentials for Your Home Gym

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6 Essentials for Your Home Gym

Joining a gym is a great way to get in shape, but it's not the only way. You can get an effective workout without ever leaving the house. Here's what you need and how to set up a gym at home.

Dumbbells (Free weights)

A good set of dumbbells will help you start a strength training routine.  Expect to pay $10-$20 for a pair of 5-pound weights. Prices will increase as the weight goes up. 

Stability Ball

An exercise ball goes by many names (stability, Swiss, physio, etc.) and is extremely versatile. You can use them in place of an exercise bench for many exercises, improving your balance and coordination. The balls come in different sizes (based on your height and weight), and a rainbow of colors, and cost around $25 apiece. 

Exercise Mat

Place a good exercise mat on the floor to stretch comfortably and cushion your body during floor exercises—a must if you do a lot of Pilates or yoga. For about $20 you can get a sticky mat (for Pilates and yoga), which is thin—but better than a hard floor. The price goes up for larger and thicker mats.

Jump Rope

Use a $15 jump rope for a quick and effective cardio workout. Slowly jumping rope burns 120 calories every 10 minutes; jump faster and burn 140 calories in 10 minutes. Opt for a thick cloth rope or a plastic beaded rope; thinner plastic ropes tend to twist easier.

Cardio Machines

Once you have the basics, consider investing in a piece of cardio equipment. Make sure your machine has different resistance levels to allow for workout variety and challenge as you progress. Costs vary, from $400 for a basic stationary bike to over $600 for a good treadmill. 

Setting Up Your Gym

Now that you know what to buy, make sure you have enough space for your gym. If you can't dedicate a room to exercising, set aside a corner of the basement or home office. Choose a room with a high ceiling, and a sturdy, clean floor. Make sure you've got good lighting and ventilation (possibly with a fan). 

Try to set up your gym in a place where you'll have access to a TV so you can watch your favorite workout DVDS or a stereo so you can crank some energetic tunes. Better yet, if you have a laptop computer, you can use it to watch workout DVDs, follow along with SparkPeople videos, or listen to music. You’ve created a gym that you can really enjoy! 

Resistance Bands

Bands or "tubes" are great because they are compact, portable, and allow for a wide range of motion. Resistance bands come in 3-5 different levels of resistance and usually run around $15 for a set. 

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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7/22/2010 9:44:19 PM

Nice setup! If I had that much room, I might join a gym!

Anyway, I have a set of dumbbells and a stability ball. I have a jump rope but my ankles can't endure the pressure. I will consider purchasing the bands.

I also have a wii. Yes, I know people don't think there's much to the wii in terms of exercise. I guess it all depends on the level of fitness and since I'm not a triathlete, I'll keep using it. :0)


7/22/2010 9:27:49 PM

COVEGIRL1's SparkPage
I use resistance band, a stability ball, and weights for my various exercise programs at home.


7/22/2010 9:21:16 PM

I'm currently exercising at home but feel like it's not enough, my wt. has been stuck. I plan to join a gym this fall and have a trainer put me on a program.


7/22/2010 9:19:49 PM

2BEATIT1's SparkPage
Good for those especially who are not near a gym or can't afford the membership.


7/22/2010 8:37:16 PM

LMITCH01's SparkPage
I go to the gym and workout in a semi-private class (2-6 people) that combines intervals of cardio with strength & conditioning 3 days a week. I am planning to do at home training using resistance bands as well as a fitness ball on the opposite days. I am also going shopping for a bike this weekend. I have been attending Weight Watchers meetings since January and have hit a plateau. Hopefully this increase in physical activity will jumpstart my weight loss again, since I have been stuck for the last 3 weeks.


7/22/2010 8:26:32 PM

LEANJEAN6's SparkPage
I love exercising at home--saves the trip to and fro


7/22/2010 7:11:32 PM

I rather exercise at home than at the gym at my own pace and not feel so rushed. What I really love doing is walking when the weather is much cooler.


7/22/2010 6:16:51 PM

DIAMORROW1's SparkPage
I have it all and yet I still go to the gym. It gets me out of the house.


7/22/2010 4:22:31 PM

SHELLPRO's SparkPage
I have some rather inexpensive bands, but find the dumbbells or weighted balls easier to hold, I have tendinitis. the jump rope is a little dangerous on me! so I 'imagine' the rope and movements and JUMP. I have the Weight System, but being Petite it just doesn't fit well. Stick with Dumbbells. Treadmill I also have, but get a better workout with the Stair Climber. The Stability Ball, everyone ought to have one and do the Spark Video at least once a week!


7/22/2010 3:37:44 PM

SUBSHINE's SparkPage
I joined a walking club - we walk during lunch time and I do a walking trail on Saturdays.


7/22/2010 3:30:51 PM

I work out exclusively at home, unless I go swimming, play golf or go for a power walk. I have enough tapes and equipment to get a great workout. although. I am presently on my back after total hip replacement. No fun!


7/22/2010 2:57:54 PM

I like to run, but if it is raining I love to work out to either the Firm (cardio that incorporates free weights into the workouts) or Tae Bo (Billy Blanks) exercise tapes. I work up a good sweat and the time goes quickly. If you look on Amazon or ebay you can the tapes or DVDs pretty reasonably, especially the tapes or ones that aren't new this year.


7/22/2010 2:44:32 PM

Basic Stationary bike - $400.00? Are you nuts? Shop around people! you can find great equipment for a lot less!!!


7/22/2010 2:13:33 PM

My treadmill was too short for my stride... gave it to my (shorter) sister. Looking for a larger one. Right now I'm remodeling the study to incorporate workout equipment


7/22/2010 1:43:41 PM

check craigs list and your second hand stores----they get lots of exercise equipment in and sell it cheap because of the space it takes up

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